Set Fire to Flames is a loose Montreal musical collective who shares members with Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Fly Pan Am, Hanged Up, and other units. This debut offering, which appears on Alien 8 rather than Constellation, is akin to the music of their sister band only in shared personnel. Set Fire to Flames creates sometimes minimal/sometimes maximal soundscapes from a wealth of instrumentation guitars (four of them), reeds, brass, strings, a host of percussion instruments, reel-to-reel tape processes, and more. The disc was recorded in various locations around Montreal and Vancouver and in front of the public library. While in places they share the ability to create haunting, melodic soundscapes that move through varying realms of tension, such as on the suite "Steal Compass/Drive North/Disappear," they are just as apt to give themselves over to entrancing noise collages that hold the same space of depth perception that labelmates Shalarabi Effect use. Where Godspeed has become more musical, Set Fire to Flames picks up the abstract edge, employing dissonance, found tape recordings, and field-recorded voices of street people to weave the disparate threads into something gorgeous and heartbreaking, while motivated by musical and sonic textural poetics of empathy and compassion; it translates to the listener in profound ways. Issues of tension and language are considered, but not resolved because they don't need to be; they are both perceptual and process-oriented movements from one identifiable space to another. To move more into critical space as to what songs work and how would be a betrayal of what this recording is actually about (since mere cultural theory is not the sole or primary ambition of what is presented by Set Fire to Flames). Suffice to say that Set Fire to Flames is a band who uses the totality of sound, nuance, (im)balance, texture, considerable tension, space, and impression to create a music that is highly original, deeply evocative, moving, and beautiful. In typical fashion, the packaging of Sings Reign Rebuilder is aesthetically attractive and alluring; it's a kind of fetish object, which is multiplied by the double-LP version.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek